No matter how much we love our children, sometimes it’s hard to be present as they play - particularly if they’re asking for the same activity again and again... and again! Home educating mum of two and Mama Brown & Co contributor Saskia Crawley shares 5 ways she practices being present as a playful parent:
Try playdough prints
Ah, playdough. I know some parents can’t stand it for its colour mixing and carpet savaging potential, but thanks to hardwood floors and two children I find very hard to control in any capacity - I’ve given up the fight and become a playdough embracer. Yes, even the multiple pots of brown we have in our playdough drawer. I also love that when they’re engrossed in it, I can enjoy half an hour of quiet joining in myself. It’s surprisingly therapeutic! I like to make patterns and prints with toys or poke hundreds of dots in a pancake shape with the tip of a pen. Don’t judge me until you’ve tried it and realise you’ve been distracted from grown-up pressures for a bit.
Unstructured creative time is so important to our children’s development and strengthening their creativity and fine motor skills. Plus, having a creative outlet is brilliant for mental wellbeing, which is why I highly recommend getting involved next time they’ve got their paint box out. You really don’t need to create a masterpiece. Paint a rainbow, fill a page with swirls, doodle tiny shapes or scribble out your week’s frustrations - be present to the moment with no aim other than to enjoy expressing yourself!
Go on an adventure walk
Getting out and about as a family needn’t be a big day out. Take a walk with your children and make an intention to be present, have fun and see things through their eyes. Pretty much everything is fascinating when you’re small, if you’re given the time to really experience it. Examples of making an afternoon walk more mindful include picking a shape and doing a circle/square/triangle spotting trip, taking photos of all the shapes they find in nature and buildings etc. Or if you’re feeling spontaneous, we’ve also done ‘oblique strategy’ walks, where we’ve made a pack of arrows using pen and paper then let the children pick a card at the end of every road to see where we’d end up! How can you not be present when you have no idea where you’ll end up?!
Let your kids lead you in Yoga
I've been wanting to get my boys into child-friendly Yoga channels on YouTube but they're not really bothered, instead they'd much rather play yoga instructors themselves and lead me in funny poses and impossible positions. Which is fine by me because they can play, and I can sneak in some real mindful breathing!
Detach and treasure them
Sometimes I try to just detach myself from being their parent and sit and watch as if I’m someone else. I think as parents it’s particularly hard to see our children for who they are. Often, we see them through the lens of who we are and who we expect them to be. See what happens when you try to listen to their voices and hear them as if they’re just a sweet child you have no responsibility for! And be present to those little fingers which will be big grown-up hands before you know it...
Do you struggle to be present in your day-to-day? Which of these ideas will you try first? Let us know over on Instagram.
Photo by Jessica Rockowitz @jessicarockowitz on Unsplash